Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Nonfiction Wednesday - A Nonfiction Caldecott Winner!

I'm excited that Alyson Beecher, at Kid Lit Frenzy, is continuing her Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge for the fifth year in a row.

I don't know what is wrong with me! I thought I had read this, so when it won the Caldecott, I picked it back up again to reread (I had it in my stack of mock-Caldecotts/Siberts for my students - many of them picked Finding Winnie as their Mock Caldecott choice), but then I realized I hadn't! I had only read the other Winnie book published this year. I even knew there were two 2015 books about Winnie, but I thought I had read both. Ugh. Anyway, now I've read Finding Winnie, and it is wonderful!! I loved Sally Walker's telling, too, but Finding Winnie brought tears to my eyes. I love that it is told from Lindsay Mattick's point of view; she is the great-granddaughter of Captain Harry Colebourn, and she tells Winnie's story to her own son. I also love Blackall's tender, beautiful illustrations - I'm a big fan of hers and am so glad she won!! A Fine Dessert, written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Blackall, was another 2015 favorite of mine! Congrats to Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall! I'm going to buy both Winnie books for my classroom - it will be fun for my students to read both. 
Read Mr. Schu's blog post on Sophie Blackall and her big win:  Caldecott Medalist Sophie Blackall
Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event
What an interesting true story told by the granddaughter of Antonio Willie Giroux. When Antonio was a boy, he lived in Ontario in a hotel that his mother ran. The description of his life there, accompanied by beautiful illustrations, seemed peaceful, interesting, and adventurous. His life was briefly interrupted, though, by a terrible forest fire. He and the hotel guests, along with all the people of the village, ran to safety by standing in the lake. The animals of the forest - foxes, rabbits, bobcats, raccoons, wolves, elk, bears, etc., started emerging from the trees and heading to the lake, too. Miraculously, all the creatures peacefully waited out the fire. When it subsided, everyone and every animal went quietly back to their homes. The hotel was not touched. What an amazing experience that must have been! 
  Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History
I met Don Brown at the Dublin Literacy Conference in 2014! So happy for his Sibert Honor win for Drowned City!
This is a fascinating compare/contrast biography of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. I didn't know a lot of the background of the two men before reading this picture book. Kids will be fascinated (and probably horrified) by the somewhat common practice of dueling to settle disputes if they haven't heard of it before. Great mentor text for our Common Core standard on text structures.                  
W Is For Webster: Noah Webster and his American Dictionary
Interesting and entertaining biography of Noah Webster! I loved the sophisticated vocabulary the author used to describe Webster's thoughts and feelings about things while providing the common words to describe the same thing. For instance - "Everywhere, Noah thought the schools were 'wretched' and the British textbooks being used were 'defective and erroneous.' That was Noah's way of saying they stunk." It would be fun for students to try out that writing strategy!


  1. "Aaron and Alexander" sounds like a great book for getting kids hooked on history, and rebutting every student who complains that the subject is boring. Big egos! Big drama! Duels!! :)

  2. Glad you finally read that 2nd Winnie book. And I understand. At first I thought I had read it too until I looked at what I'd reviewed. I enjoyed Aaron and Alexander a lot, also didn't know very much, & now that Hamilton is so successful, it's nice to have some background. Thanks for W Is For Webster, new to me, & will look for it.

  3. Some great books to add to our biography/memoir focus in our after school book club. I read the other Winnie book, so was excited when this one arrived on the library holds shelf. It's delightful! Requesting the other three books now.

  4. Your Winnie story is exactly like mine! I knew there were two Winnie books, and I thought I had read both of them until I saw the pictures in all the Caldecott coverage. I read it myself an hour ago. Such an interesting narrative frame it has, with the great-granddaughter as a character in the telling!

  5. Out of the woods looks like my kind of book, Holly. I can't wait to get a copy.

  6. I keep looking out for W is for Webster and my library doesn't have it yet.
    Out of the Woods was so interesting! I think it would be a great book to introduce kids to nonfiction.
    I did read Winnie when I first got it, but then it went right into my Mock Caldecott bin! I need to get it out and reread!

  7. I haven't even seen W is for Webster in libraries or bookstores yet and I've been wanting to read it!